Bats and Viruses – level 3

09-03-2021 07:00

The COVID-19 outbreak originated from bats, like many deadly viruses in the past, including the Ebola outbreaks in Western Africa.

Studies have shown that bats are a natural reservoir to many different viruses, some of which have led to disease outbreaks. There are more than 1,300 different species in 20 families with some species roosting in forests while others in caves.

Some eat insects, some eat fruit seeds and pollen, while others eat small animals such as birds, fish, and frogs. Some bats even feed on animal blood. This diversity may create the virus diversity and studies have shown that bats host more zoonotic viruses than even rodents.

Other traits that make bats suitable as virus hosts include their size and longevity. Bats have long life spans that make it easier for viruses to persist. Also, bats are the only mammals capable of flying, which leads to higher body temperatures similar to human fevers. This means that some viruses have adapted to be more tolerant to high temperatures.

Difficult words: reservoir (a place where something is kept in store), zoonotic (capable to transmit from animals to humans), longevity (a long existence).

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